The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa – for he has so much to look forward to.”RICHARD MULLIN
Planning a trip to Africa? Well, you’ve come to the right place!
I’ve been travelling, backpacking, and flashpacking my way through Africa for 12 years now (eek) and the whole reason this site exists is to help others do the same!
On this page, you’ll find my favourite Africa travel resources to help you plan your own amazing and life-changing trip across the African continent!
This guide includes all kinds of information, including how to start planning your trips, how to get around and where to find the most up to date health information to the best booking sites, links to my country-specific posts, and what to pack!
As I discover new cool places, hotels, apps, and products to help you travel Africa in the most awesome way possible, I’ll link to them below.
I’m going to start with a few of my Africa posts that you may find helpful when beginning to plan your Africa trip.
- How to Plan Your Dream Trip to Africa (in 18 easy steps)
- My Top Africa Travel Tips (from 11 Years of Travelling the Continent)
- Solo Travel in Africa vs. Taking a Group Tour
- My 6 Month Africa Travel Budget
- 39 Things You Need to Know Before Backpacking Africa
- The 25 Best Places in Africa for Solo Travellers
- Do I Need a Yellow Fever Certificate to Travel to Africa?
- The Beginner’s Guide to Backpacking East & Southern Africa
Africa Planning Advice By Country
Health & Safety
The sites below offer a great starting point to ensure you stay safe and healthy whilst travelling in Africa.
I strongly advise that you seek the advice of your doctor or a specialist travel clinic before you travel to Africa to ensure you are covered for everything.
Just remember that travel warnings for countries/specific areas in Africa, set out by the government of your home country can make some travel insurance policies invalid, so please ensure you check this prior to your trip, and if necessary, purchase additional cover for a specialist insurer (see below).
- Foreign & Commonwealth Office (UK): I check on here for any travel warnings about the places I am visiting.
- Travel.State.Gov (US): Similar to the FCO, this has all of the US travel advisory warnings.
- World Health Organisation: The major authority on travel health everywhere in the world.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Useful information on travel health by destination.
- Nomad Travel Clinic: This is where I go to get my injections in the UK (the ones I can’t get free from my GBP).
- NHS Malaria Prevention and Treatment: General malaria prevention advice.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Good information about Yellow Fever and the countries at risk.
- World Health Organisation Yellow Fever Info: A list of all countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and/or countries requiring yellow fever vaccination.
- Do I Need a Yellow Fever Certificate to Travel to Africa?: An easily digestible bit of advice from me on the Yellow Fever regulations for Africa.
Packing for Africa
To better understand the types of insurance you may need for Africa, please have a read of:
- The Best Travel Insurance for Africa
- The Best Travel Insurance for High-Risk Destinations & Activities
Below are the insurance companies that I usually recommend to travellers. Most basic travel insurance policies do not cover all activities, and will not cover you if you visit areas/countries with travel advisory warnings.
Things that are considered more dangerous, like hiking over 4000m, white water rafting, and bungy jumping aren’t covered in many basic insurance policies. So it’s always best to double-check that they cover you for the things you want to do and the places you want to go.
You may also need to add cover for expensive electrical items.
PLEASE NOTE: Most travel insurance policies available DO NOT cover you for Covid-19 related cancellations or medical bills, especially if you visit a country on the travel advisory list (which is most of them) so you may need to buy additional cover if you intend to travel at this time.
If you are travelling to countries with travel warnings in place (like Mali, South Sudan, parts of Ethiopia or the DRC etc), you may need to get specialist insurance to cover you whilst you are there. Companies that provide this type of cover include:
Africa Visa Information
Knowing whether you need a visa or not, how much it’s going to cost you, and whether you need to apply in advance is one of your biggest considerations when travelling to Africa.
The rules vary from country to country and from passport to passport so you need to ensure you are prepared. I’ve written more about visa prep in my Top Africa Travel Tips post, but just always make sure you have 6 months (in some case 1 year) left on your passport and at least 2 pages per country for stamps and visas.
The embassies are always your best source of information, however their websites can be difficult to navigate/out of date, so you can also check on the sites below:
- Project Visa: This is a great resource to get information on the visas you need for every country.
- Wikipedia: You can check your visa requirements by destination and nationality which is really helpful.
Recommended Africa Tour Companies
There are loads of great places to stay in Africa and I find that picking the right place can really enhance your Africa travel experience.
During the high seasons a lot of the best places book up, so I always advise to book in advance if you can.
If you’re camping, this is less of a problem as there’s usually always space to pitch a tent, but I still suggest you at least call ahead to be sure.
There are also a lot of places that you won’t find on booking sites, so always ask for traveller and local recommendations – I also mention a lot of these on this blog.
To help you along, I’ve listed my favourite booking sites here:
Flights to Africa aren’t always as expensive as people think they are, especially if you can be a little bit flexible on your dates. I usually compare deals on the following sites:
- Skyscanner: This is my go-to flight search engine for finding cheap flights to and within Africa. I usually play about with the dates a little, to get the best deals. You can also set up flight alerts.
- Momondo: I’ll sometimes cross-reference flights on Momondo. Sometimes you find better deals on here.
I’d also advise signing up to airline air miles rewards programmes and emails to get sale notifications.
Train travel in Africa is one of my favourite things to do and a great insight into life in this fascinating continent. I always think it’s a shame that the rail network isn’t more extensive as it would be amazing!
The quality of the trains vary wildly, from the fancy Blue Train in South Africa, to the rickety Tazara train that runs between Zambia and Tanzania – but it’s always an adventure!
- The Man in Seat 61: This is my favourite blog/info site for train travel. There’s even a great interactive Africa train map!
- Africa by train: the continents best rail journeys: Great article about some of the journeys you can take in Africa.
- Kenya Railways: This is the place to book your seat on the Nairobi to Mombasa SGR train. Unfortunately at the moment they only accept M-PESA as payment, so you’ll either need to find someone with M-PESA to do it for, go through a booking agent or go down to the station yourself.
- The Tazara Train: I took this train a few years ago and whilst it’s not fancy in any way shape or form (quite the opposite in fact), it was an experience!
- Shosholoza Meyl: This was the train that my friend Lucia and I took between Cape Town and Johannesburg. This is a sleeper train, but was good fun! The best way to book is to go down to the station and book yourself in advance (it books up) or you could try using a travel agent.
- The Blue Train: One of the most luxurious train journeys in the world, going from Cape Town to Pretoria.
- Desert Express: A different way to experience Namibia, travelling between Windhoek and Swakopmund.
- Rovos Rail: The Pride of Africa, one of the fanciest trains in the world going through South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania.
Buses in Africa vary greatly! There are little public minibuses you pick up around town, bigger coaches that are good for long distances and hop-on, hop-off tourist buses. The companies below are the ones that I’ve found to be pretty reliable and good for long-distance journeys.
Most of the buses are best booked in-country (and it’s cheaper that way), maybe a few days before or you can go through a booking agent. Many hotels and safari operators can also help you with bus tickets for a small fee.
- Modern Coast Express: A reliable bus service throughout Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania.
- The Guardian Coach: Coaches around Kenya.
- Impala Shuttle: Transfers between Nairobi and the Kilimanjaro region. This is the company I used to travel from Moshi to Nairobi after my Kilimanjaro climb.
- Riverside Shuttle: Transfers between Nairobi, Kilimanjaro International Airport, Arusha and Moshi.
- All Africa Shuttles: Buses in Kenya and Tanzania.
- Kilimanjaro Express: My favourite bus to take between Arusha/Moshi and Bagamoyo/Dar es Salaam. Book when there.
- Tahmeed: I use this company to travel between Mombasa and Arusha/Moshi.
- Intercape: A reliable bus company that operates in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi.
- Jonda Bus: These buses are good for travel between South Luangwa and Lusaka.
- Mazhandu Family Bus Services: A good company that travels between Livingstone and various other destinations in Zambia.
- Baz Bus: Hop-on, hop-off backpacker buses in South Africa.
Groups & Forums
If you’re looking to get on the ground info, or looking for some travel buddies, then it’s worth joining the below Facebook groups:
- Backpacking Africa Facebook Group: I am one of the admins of this group and it’s always a great place to ask for recommendations for places to stay, safari companies, how to get around, or find travel buddies.
- West Africa Travellers: This is the group with the most info if you’re heading over to the West side of the continent.
- Overlanding Africa: This is a great resource for those who are wanting to self-drive through Africa and you will find a great group with a wealth of information.
Here are my Africa packing lists to ensure you have a fun, comfortable and prepared trip to Africa, including clothes, electrical equipment, toiletries, baggage and more!
- Units Plus: This is a handy app for checking currency rates on the go -highly recommended.
- iOverlander: Handy for picking up information from other travellers.
- Maps.me: Great offline maps app, useful for when you are in the middle of nowhere.
- Google Maps: I pretty much always use Google maps to plot my routes.
- SkyView: Impress your friends when you can point out the Southern Cross in the the night sky. And believe me, you’ll see a lot of it in Africa!
- Whatsapp: Everyone uses Whatsapp to communicate in Africa, so download it before you go.
I’ve written about some of my favourite books, both fiction and non-fiction here. But below you’ll find a few of my favourites:
- Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles by Richard Dowden
- The State of Africa: A History of the Continent Since Independence by Martin Meredith
- The Last Train to Zona Verde: Overland from Cape Town to Angola by Paul Theroux
- The Shadow of the Sun: My African Life by Ryszard Kapuściński
- Swahili For The Broken-Hearted by Peter Moore
- Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town by Paul Theroux
Have an Amazing Trip to Africa!
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